As the clock ticked 12:49pm yesterday at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo, Marina Lakeside, the family of city businessman Yusuf Matovu, fondly known as Youma, had the beastly face of fate staring at them.
A boat crew raised their arms, signalling to Hotel Africana proprietor, Hajj BM Kibirige who was coordinating the search for the body of Mr Matovu’s son Olavi Matovu.
SSP James Apora, the Marine Police commandant was in charge of the police search team.
Unsure of what the signal meant, Hajj Kibirige sauntered closer to the lakeside, attracting anxiety from hundreds of onlookers. “Have you discovered the corpse?” he asked in the saddest of tones.
The affirmative response sent the waiting relatives into streams of tears. The sad news had drained the little hope there was. The body had been discovered approximately 500 metres from the lake shore. Matovu drowned on Saturday evening.
Chief of Defence Forces Katumba Wamala was part of the search crew, assisting police and army officers with crowd control and family members struggling to comfort one another.
“It is a star that set too early,” is all the usually calm army chief could tell this newspaper.
Hajj Kibirige, who is heading burial arrangements and is an uncle of the deceased, could not hide his bitterness with the media.
“Please, we are in grief. Respect our feelings and report accurately. The boat did not capsize as some newspapers reported. The boat actually belongs to the father and the deceased had brought his fiancée’s friends for a boat ride. His girlfriend is in the US and was not in the boat as reported,” Hajj Kibirige said.
It is not yet unclear how the deceased met his death. There are varying accounts of what happened that day. The boat, the family says, carried four passengers, with two females and two males on board.
Yet one of the fishermen who rescued a survivor, said: “The deceased was on a jet, he dived into the water without a life jacket and told his friends he will raise his arm if he is in trouble. Moments after, he screamed and the friend with a life jacket tried to rescue him but to no avail.”
The deceased had no life jacket on like the rest of his friends. The survivors, the family said, were still recovering from shock and could not speak to journalists.
Asked to comment about his son’s death, Mr Matovu declined, sending our reporter to Mr Kibirige who said of the late: “He was doing business with the father; he was a very faithful Muslim. He prayed at Hotel Africana mosque at 1pm before coming to Munyonyo. I used to go to the gym with him. He was such a gentleman and extremely disciplined.”
Comments from some of the relatives paint a picture of a down to earth rich-man’s son in whom the father had most trust and was grooming to take on his business empire.
When the body was brought ashore, the media was barred from coming close with only a few relatives witnessing its dressing.
Mr Fred Enanga, the Police spokesman, ruled out foul play, saying:s “It has been a joint effort among police’s marine unit, army’s air force and local divers, the doctor will examine the body before it is taken for burial. We want to think it was an accident and suspect no foul play but if the post mortem report indicates there was an unnatural cause of death, we shall interest ourselves and investigate.”
By press time, the programme for burial, indicated to take place today, had not been released.